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Bitcoin Enters the Jack Dorsey Era

Bitcoin Enters the Jack Dorsey Era
By Vin Narayanan
Date January 19, 2022

Bitcoin is now in the Jack Dorsey era. The former Twitter CEO (and co-founder) is betting big on bitcoin. Dorsey renamed his payment company — formerly Square — “Block” to signal its new focus on crypto and blockchain technology. And his outsized presence looks like it may dominate the landscape for years to come.

In the last 30 days, Dorsey has…

  • Announced Block is building an “open bitcoin mining system.”
  • Created a legal defense fund for bitcoin developers.
  • Started a Web3 feud with Andreessen Horowitz co-founder Marc Andreessen.

Block’s new bitcoin mining initiative is designed to make it easier for people to become bitcoin miners. (Click here to learn more about bitcoin mining and why it’s an important part of the bitcoin ecosystem.)

“For most people, mining rigs are hard to find,” said Block general manager of hardware Thomas Templeton in a Twitter thread about the bitcoin mining project. “Once you’ve managed to track them down, they’re expensive and delivery can be unpredictable. How can we make it so that anyone, anywhere, can easily purchase a mining rig?”

Templeton also wants to improve the performance of mining rigs. 

“Common issues we’ve heard with current systems are around heat dissipation and dust,” Templeton said on Twitter. “They also become non-functional almost every day, which requires a time-consuming reboot. We want to build something that just works. What can we simplify to make this a reality?”

The ultimate goal is “to make mining more distributed and efficient in every way, from buying, to set up, to maintenance, to mining,” Templeton explained. 

If Block is successful, bitcoin mining will become substantially easier. In theory, more people will start mining bitcoin. And as a result, the mining process will become more decentralized. And when you’re building the decentralized future, reducing the risk of a powerful group of people (like miners) taking over the network is critical for success. And that makes Block’s pursuit of this open mining standard a crucial development in bitcoin’s evolution.

Dorsey’s dive into the bitcoin ecosystem goes way beyond bitcoin mining, though. He’s also started a legal defense fund to protect developers who are being sued. I’m not going to get into the details of the lawsuit, as that would take ages. And the merits of the case really don’t matter. What does matter is that Dorsey isn’t “picking a crypto lane” and sticking to it. He’s all in. And when a force of nature like Dorsey decides to take something on, big things happen.

Those big things that happen also come with plenty of drama and conflict — like Dorsey’s current feud with Andreessen. 

In December, Dorsey tweeted out his disdain for the current Web3 ecosystem. (Web3 is a decentralized online system where users own the apps, platforms and content instead of corporations.)

Dorsey’s basic point is that Web3 can’t really be decentralized if venture capital (VC) firms are funding and financing the whole system. The incentives don’t align. 

But Dorsey wasn’t satisfied with just making that point. He decided to (or was goaded into) calling out Andreessen Horowitz (a16z), one of the VC firms with a major stake in Web3 startups.

Here’s Dorsey’s reply to Chris Dixon, one of the top Web3 officials at a16z:

And Dorsey couldn’t resist taking a shot at a16z when Elon Musk set him up…

Of course Andreessen decided to block Dorsey on Twitter.

And there you have it. The full Jack Dorsey bitcoin experience. Plenty of progress. Plenty of drama. And this ride is just getting started.

Dorsey is determined to make bitcoin a better product and experience. But he’s also going to do it on his terms. So grab some popcorn and enjoy the show. The next few years are definitely going to be interesting.

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